confession of cathryn blog post may12 2019

Fluency Matters received the following letter from Cathryn Harshman. It touched our hearts and we think it will resonate with you. Thank you Cathryn, for sharing your honesty and baring your soul in this startling confession…

Dear Colleagues,

I am struggling. I love my students. I love my classroom. I love what we accomplish every day. I love that every day is different, too. But there’s one struggle I can’t avoid and it is the bane of my existence and sometimes it even keeps me up at night! It’s essential to my job and yet getting myself to do it is like pulling my own teeth. Not a day goes by that it doesn’t cause me some kind of grief…

I hate lesson planning.

Forgive me, Jesus, for I have sinned. It has been 26 years and 7 months since my last confession. Summer is almost here and I still haven’t written a single lesson plan more than five hours before I have had to teach it. I really hate lesson planning.

For the record, I do end up with fantastic lessons. I have a Bellringer and multiple activities and comprehensible input (although not as much as I could) and brain breaks and authentic resources and an effective closure. My administrator spends a full class period with us and only 20 minutes in other classrooms, just because I’m that awesome (“toot, toot” said my horn). We get to do so many different amazing things in language classrooms that I really am enchanted by my job. But I hate lesson planning.

This is my fourth year of teaching and the fourth year I have re-written the majority of my curricula. I have a textbook. I could use it. I know I don’t have to write my own curricula. I’m definitely not being paid to do it! But textbooks are so boring… My own lessons always end up ten times as fun! And they’d be ten times as fun for me, too, if only I wasn’t also in charge of planning them. I just hate lesson planning.

Last year I discovered Fluency Matters Teacher’s Guides. God Bless the dear people who write those teachers guides, and entire units, and sell them to undeserving mutineers like myself. Your hard work has turned many a prep periods from panicky scrambles to relaxed grading or even – gasp! – reading time. My school life has been simplified a lot since my first year of creating everything myself… I won’t lie. I’m trying my darnedest to make sure I can stretch those teacher’s guides and units all the way out, so they line up back-to-back, because the less I have to come up with on my own, the better! I still definitely hate lesson planning.

I like to think that my hatred doesn’t spill over into other areas of my job. Admittedly, some days I feel more stressed-out and disorganized than others. But I don’t believe great teachers also have to be great lesson planners. I have to believe our interactions with students matter more than the number of interpersonal speaking activities we get through in a week. I have to believe that teaching is about the kids, and not, ultimately, about the content I specifically teach on Wednesday, May 15th because today is Tuesday, May 14th and I still have no idea what that exactly will be…

Anyone else hate lesson planning?


Cathryn Harshman

Thank you Cathryn, for the great letter!

At Fluency Matters, our Teacher’s Guides are 100% written by REAL classroom teachers who work every day with real kids. When you receive a guide, you can be assured that the authors are with you in spirit! We also realize that flexibility is KEY for teachers. Sometimes you need a quick sub plan, sometimes you need a fun hands-on activity, sometimes you need more reading, and sometimes you just love a little surprise. Our guides are designed to be waaaaaay more than you could possibly use, so that you can pick and choose what works best for you, with your students, on that particular day.

We offer Teacher’s Guides both on CD as well as in a downloadable format. The downloadable Teacher’s Guides have a few advantages. 1) They cost less! 2) There is no shipping involved 3) Your download files are stored in your Fluency Matters profile, so you can re-download your guide at any time. No CD to lose or break and no lost files!

The following list includes the features you will find in our Teacher’s Guides. (Each guide is unique and features will vary from guide to guide…see the description in the catalogue for information specific to each guide.)

Highlights and Features in Fluency Matters Teacher’s Guides:

  • Pre-reading discussion questions in beautifully illustrated slideshows
  • Lists of vocabulary
  • Lists of cognates
  • Comprehension questions for each chapter
  • “Blooming Comprehension” which encourages higher order thinking
  • Chapter quizzes
  • Full color cultural and subject-matter slideshows
  • “Map talk” activities and scripts
  • Reader’s Theater scripts
  • Interactive games and activities
  • Infographic and Meme activities
  • Supplementary readings allow deeper cultural exploration
  • Answer Keys

In addition to your guide, you also gain access to our Online Supplement page, which is a collaborative effort between Fluency Matters and the teachers who love our readers! We encourage sharing as we learn together! We also maintain Pinterest boards for each of our readers in case you need further inspiration.

Finally, we love to hear from you! Please join us in our Facebook Group where you can share, ask questions, and interact with the entire team of Fluency Matters Teacher-Authors! Our Teacher-Authors create AND use our materials, have a deep understanding of second language acquisition, and are successful language facilitators in their own classrooms. How can we help YOU today?

Need strategies? Encouragement? Have burning questions?

Fluency Matters is proud to offer both live webinars and on-demand training! Join us any time of the day or night! #PDinyourPJs

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